Lesson 14: Operator and AAS Instruments

In the last course, you got a crash course in subtractive synthesis with Ableton’s Analog. Now, it’s time for the rubber to hit the road and learn what else you can achieve with Ableton’s synthesis instruments. You’ll learn how to use Operator and create soundscapes with Collision, Electric, and Tension. Get ready to get creative and unlock a realm of sonic possibilities.

Operator is a powerful virtual instrument from Ableton, setting itself apart from the rest of their Suite which is based on AAS technology. Instead, this synth blends classic FM (frequency modulation) synthesis with classic subtractive and additive synthesis, creating endless possibilities when crafting sounds.

Collision, Electric, and Tension are three physical modeling tools that enable you to craft your own sounds because they’re based on principles of physics, as opposed to having pre-recorded samples. Through careful calculations, these devices can reproduce a nearly indistinguishable replication of any given instrument.

Working with Ableton’s Style settings is both exciting and rewarding. Chord Trigger is especially worth experimentation – it is a polyphonic instrument that can be modified to be monophonic or polyphonic with the Voices parameter. You’ll quickly see how playing live yields different results than playing recorded clips when you record the track and interact with the arpeggiator.

Hold mode will play an important role here, as will other user actions; single notes versus chords? All of these choices yield creative swaths of sonic exploration. For your course assignment, you’ll create a track out of nothing but Ableton’s suite of synthesizers.